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John Miles

28. Jan 2021 
by Ziv Knoll
8159 views

John Miles (14 June 1943 – 8 April 2018) was a British racing driver from England. He participated in 15 Formula One Grand Prix, making his debut in the Lotus 63 4-wheel drive F1 car for which he was official Team Lotus test driver. He scored a total of 2 championship points with a fifth place in the 1970 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami.

After Graham Hill broke his legs in late 1969 and did not return to Team Lotus, John Miles was promoted to number two Lotus F1 driver by Colin Chapman behind lead driver Jochen Rindt for the 1970 season.

It was soon evident that Miles was not as fast as his team leader who won five races to earn the F1 World Championship that year. He many times expressed concernes about the safety of the Lotus 72, finding it too fragile and was never totally at ease at its wheel. The relationship with team boss Colin Chapman became strained.

According to Miles, Chapman regarded him ‘as a sort of grease monkey’ and paid him a mere 300 pounds a race, out of which he had to pay his own travel expenses, occasionally supplemented by a roll of notes, on request, from Chapman’s back pocket to get Miles back to England.

At Monza, Chapman ordered Miles (who thought it was dangerous) to follow Rindt in running the Lotus 72 without front and rear wings to take advantage of Monza’s long straights and fast low-downforce corners. Miles reluctantly complied but expressed his concern about the erratic handling of the car in the straights.

When team mate Jochen Rindt was killed on Saturday during qualifying, it was too much for Miles who seriously considered to leave the team. The Englishman was then recruited by BRM for 1971 where he was employed as test driver and raced in two non-championship races at Brands Hatch and Hockenheim. He also won the British sports car championship that year in a Chevron B19, where he beat a competitive field, including Chris Craft and Wilson Fittipaldi.

In 1999, John Miles told the following on the ITV channel: “Two weeks after Monza, I got a phone call from Peter Warr telling me I was being replaced by Reine Wisell. I was very sad at the time, but in retrospect, Colin was probably right…”

A qualified mechanical engineer, Miles later made a name for himself working for Lotus’s road car division. He wrote a column, “Miles behind the wheel”, for Autocar magazine, giving his road impressions of sportier cars.

Picture below: John Miles on board of the Lotus 72, at Hockenheim 1970.

Source: Rainer W Schlegelmilch

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2 Comments

  1. Sorry Ziv, mais John Miles n’a pas quitté l’équipe Lotus après l’accident mortel de Jochen Rindt. Il a été remercié. Voir le témoignage qu’il donne à ITV Television en 1999 où il dit clairement “Deux semaines après, je reçus un appel de Peter Warr m’informant que Reine Wisell me remplaçait. J’en ai été très chagriné sur le coup, mais rétrospectivement Colin avait sans doute raison….”

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